The Oregon Sierra Club Beyond Gas and Oil Team (BG&O) is doing awesome work throughout the region to move Oregon and the Pacific Northwest in the right direction—away from dirty fossil fuel extraction, transport, and export. A summary of their ongoing work on gas infrastructure and oil trains is below. Contact Gregory Monahan, Chair of the Beyond Gas and Oil Team, if you would like more information or if you would like to volunteer with the Beyond Gas and Oil Team: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Owing to the revolutionary improvements in hydraulic fracturing (fracking) technology, there are abundant sources of natural gas in the Pacific Northwest which the producers are seeking to get to market, with catastrophic impacts on planetary warming. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is produced by compressing and cooling natural gas and requires massive amounts of energy to create, resulting in greater global warming impacts. Methanol is essentially another liquid form of natural gas which also requires massive energy inputs to produce. All of these products, while being touted as clean energy solutions are dirty fossil fuels and need to be left in the ground if we are to leave our children and grandchildren a world in which they can thrive.
If you have not already seen it, take a look at the LNG video produced by the 8th grade Sustainability Cohort from Sunnyside Elementary School last year:
Jordan Cove Export Terminal and Pacific Connector Pipeline Not Dead Yet
The proposed Jordan Cove LNG Export Terminal, Pacific Connector Pipeline and associated South Dunes Power Plant live on as a “dead project walking”. FERC has denied the permits for the pipeline and terminal because of a lack of customers and because too few landowners have signed easements. The applicants have filed a “request for a rehearing” with FERC and have been busy trying to create the impression that they now have contracts to sell gas (they don’t) and that they made headway in signing easements (they haven’t). FERC has is not to make a decision on the request for a rehearing until after the November elections. The companies are paying state agencies to continue to evaluate permits (DEQ water quality permits for the 400+ stream crossings and DSL for the lease of public lands). DEQ has a deadline for issuing a decision by Nov 8th while the deadline for DSL is Nov. 10th. The BG&O team is working closely with our allies in the Statewide No LNG coalition to help educate the public about the status of the project and the threat this project represents to both the impacted landowners and to the health of the planet.
Proposed Kalama Methanol Refinery and Export Terminal
The work to block the proposed Kalama Methanol terminal and associated natural gas pipeline continues with organizing leadership being provided by WA Chapter of the Sierra Club organizer Cecile Gernez and Jasmine Stukey-Zimmer, Senior Organizer with Columbia Riverkeeper. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the project was released on September 30, 2016. There are significant information gaps in the FEIS, which is supposed to address the potential effects on the environment from the project. Columbia Riverkeeper will appeal the FEIS. Once the appeal is filed, it will take a few months for the Cowlitz County commissioner-appointed Hearings Officer to make a decision.
Expanded Use of Natural Gas for Electrical Power Generating at the Carty-Boardman Site.
Photo credit: Steve Nehl/The Oregonian
When the Coal to Clean legislation was passed earlier this year, it was with the expectation that Coal fired power sources would phase out and be replaced with renewable energy sources. PGE recently announced its intention to add another Natural Gas powered generator to the Carty-Board man site making this a Coal to Natural Gas transition. The BG&O Campaign is partnering with the Beyond Coal campaign to stop this wrong-headed idea in its tracks. We need to directly transition to a carbon free grid and skip the 30 year side trip that new natural gas powered power plants represent.
Many of the existing and proposed oil terminals and refineries in the state of Washington plan on using the rail lines that run on both sides of the Columbia River through the small towns and cities in the rural areas, through the National Scenic Area of the Columbia Gorge and through the metropolitan areas of Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington. Regardless of which side of the river they run on, these trains represent a threat to the health and safety of the people and environment on both sides of the river.
Trains carrying Bakken Crude have a history of derailments with explosive fires such as the one in Lac-Mégantic. Canada which killed 47 people and demolished the central portion of the town.
Proposed Shell Rail Expansion in Anacortes, WA withdrawn
Shell has withdrawn its proposal to expand its Anacortes Refinery rail siding capacity, which would have resulted in as many as 6 additional explosive crude by rail running through the Columbia Gorge every day.
Union Pacific Rail Double Track Project through Mosier, OR Approved
Photo credit: Steve Nehl/The Oregonian
The Wasco County Planning Commission approved with conditions, the Union Pacific’s permit to double track the rail line around and through Mosier, Oregon. If built, this project will more than double the capacity of the track down the Oregon side of the Columbia River, which would inevitably lead to more crude by rail and coal trains if the fossil fuel industry has its way. Despite receiving hundreds of comments with over
Photo credit: Dawn Faught via NTSB
12,000 pages of submissions in opposition to the project, the planning commission voted 5 -2 to approve the project. Our allies, The Friends of the Columbia Gorge are planning on filing an appeal to the Wasco County Commissioners with a hearing expected before the end of the year. Should that appeal not succeed, the next stop is an appeal to the Columbia River National Scenic Area Commission with a hearing in the summer of 2017.
Southern Willamette Valley Crude by Rail Work Beginning
Interest in blocking crude by oil trains through the southern Willamette valley is increasing in the wake of the derailment and explosive fire this past June in Mosier, Oregon. The BG&O team will participate in a 350 Eugene sponsored Expert Panel on Oil Trains as part of their “Awareness and Resistance” Oil Train campaign scheduled for Nov 15th. Preliminary discussions have taken place exploring the idea of establishing a Statewide No Crude by Rail Coalition loosely based in the successful Statewide No LNG Coalition.
The Final Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Westway oil terminal in Grays Harbor released on September 30th
This proposed project would be another source of long, explosive crude oil trains running through the Columbia River Gorge. Read the working summary of the main points of the final EIS from the Stand Up To Oil (SUTO) Coalition website. Join with over 600 members of the Yakama nation and urge the Mayor of Hoquiam and city manager to deny permits for Westway oil terminal proposal by using the SUTO web site.